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  #21  
Old 16.01.2011, 23:17
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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Then they can go on to uni. The system seems restricting, it is in fact quite diverse, one just has to be flexible and determined.
.. very determined. I admire these kids no end. They have to study so much.
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Old 16.01.2011, 23:35
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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Just to get some info straight, OP's kids are 12 and 15 and they are not considering living in VD but either Zurich or Oerlikon.
I'm so sorry, I must have mixed up to threads in my mind. The main idea stays: get enlightened about the different kinds of high schools that your 15 y.o. may attend, and what kind of entrance exam they have. Straight into Gymnasium might not be realistic.
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Old 16.01.2011, 23:43
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

I was in two minds whether to post because the OP was looking for reassurance and probably not for a damper, but I have to say that from my perspective I think that both the OP's children have got an enormous challenge ahead of them. The 15 year old more so than the 12 year old. Yes, I know, schools may give you a bit of a break and take into account language issues for a while, but I see what my nieces and nephews have to master and they speak fluent German. Even for them it is tough and I can't imagine how much tougher it is going to be for a child who doesn't speak German. And integration classes are all well and good, but while the children are learning German their classmates will be learning stuff that will be tested and examined....

I gather from the OP's post that there is really no alternative, so I guess that is clear. I just think that you should be aware of the challenge your children are going to face.

The other really provocative question I am going to ask (and believe me I don't expect an answer here, but I think it is a question you should ask yourself): to what extent are you willing to jeopardise your children's education and future? You won't be the first prospective expat to ask that question and there is no right answer, but it is worth asking anyway.....
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Old 16.01.2011, 23:52
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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I'm so sorry, I must have mixed up to threads in my mind. The main idea stays: get enlightened about the different kinds of high schools that your 15 y.o. may attend, and what kind of entrance exam they have. Straight into Gymnasium might not be realistic.
I think (I can only speak for VD) it would be a lot more possible to: get the kid into local integration class, for a year or two, then continue in the non matura stream since it might be too hard to succeed in the entrance tests or, find a good apprentisage in the field OP's son is interested in. While doing apprentisage, cram local language, pass the entrance tests, still while at apprentisage, enroll for the evening Matura option, with the focus of specific studies. Then, continue to local uni. It is a huge amount of work, above posters were indeed spot on, but it is doable. Ecoles de transition also help with finding apprentisage, but in my opinion, OP's son, if he really applies himself, might be able to pull it off without the ecole de transition if his German gets at least close to what kids need to know..
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Old 17.01.2011, 00:04
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

Well, in Basel, he would have to pass not only German at near-native level but also have an acceptable level seen from a Swiss perspective in French or Italian. Probably the same elsewhere. Saying it will be hard is a huge understatement. When I used the word "not realistic", I meant it exactly like I said it. I just don't want to kill the bird before it even has try to fly, so I would say that the best way is to get the info directly from the schools of the relevant canton.

The only ones more or less in that situation I have seen succeed in Basel did an apprenticeship first and did entrance exam afterwards. Exception: a couple of Dutch students and the Germans, for obvious reasons.

EDIT: The Basler entrance exams. http://www.ed-bs.ch/bildung/bildungs...fnahmepruefung
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  #26  
Old 17.01.2011, 00:12
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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Well, in Basel, he would have to pass not only German at near-native level but also French or Italian to an acceptable level seen from a Swiss perspective. Probably the same elsewhere. Saying it will be hard is a huge understatement. When I used the word "not realistic", I meant it exactly like I said it. I just don't want to kill the bird before it even has try to fly, so I would say that the best way is to get the info directly from the schools of the relevant canton.

The only ones more or less in that situation I have seen succeed in Basel did an apprenticeship first and did entrance exam afterwards. Exception: a couple of Dutch students and the Germans, for obvious reasons.
It's true, it is not only German but also French to worry about, that's another huge obstacle. But what do we know. Maybe OP's son is not even interested in an academic career, uni does not interest him, he might find a fab apprentisage, he may want to move back to UK laters, anyways, with knowing well at least one foreign language, plus the whole world of online uni studies are also waiting for kids like that. If he's got an interesting apprentisage under his belt, couple of languages and an online degree to formalize theoretical education, it's not a bad option, either. It really depends on the kids and what the kids' and parents' priorities are. If is to study at uni, or to go on to masters etc, I would really think twice for the older child, if is not already a studious type.
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  #27  
Old 17.01.2011, 00:53
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

Which year is your 15 year old son in now, 10 or 11? The Swiss system for post 15 is just so different from UK. GCSE's don't exist as such, but they are still streamed early on towards vocational or academic- and continue all subjects for the Bac/Maturité (more like the Scottish system). In the UK, bright foreign kids can study 4 subjects for year 12, and 3 for A' Levels - + GCSE English and Maths if not yet acquired. So a kid can do well, say in sciences and maths, or design, technology, IT, a foreign language they know, etc - and the fact they are not fluent in the local language is not really a big problem initially. Good that you are coming in March, so you have plenty of time to look at options by next September. But he just won't be able to walk into an Academic School in a Bac/Matu section.

I realise you perhaps do NOT have the choice, but as a rule of thumb, 15 is not a good age to change systems + language. I have no idea what your finances are like - but for 15 year old private here, or stay in the UK boarding (there are still many State boarding schools where you only pay for accom and food, not for schooling- like the one I taught at in Loughborough for instance). I sincerely hope it will all turn out for the best and that you will find the best solution for him and for you as a family.
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Old 17.01.2011, 10:47
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

Changing systems and languages at 15 is difficult, but certainly not impossible. I know because I did it. Plus, 15 is just on the cusp of being able to learn another language and speak it without an accent.

I'm not sure if it works in the German part like it does in the French part, so I'd suggest you have a good talk with school officials on arrival (or beforehand). I arrived in Switzerland at 15, also from the States. I went through an integration class for one year (intensive French learning), and then was presented with the choice all kids are presented with once their obligatory scholarity ends: apprenticeship, specialized technical school, or secondary school (collège in the French part). If your son wants to continue to university, he should aim for the latter. I was in 10th grade in the United States when I left, so technically I ended up losing two years, but that's a label that will only have importance if you choose to give it importance. Yes, it was often hard work, but worth it. You can't put a price on having two extra languages in your repertoire (French and Italian I learned in school, will probably be German and French/Italian for your son).

The integration class route at that age is certainly a sink-or-swim affair, but if your kid knows what he's in for and has his eye on the prize, he'll do fine.
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Old 17.01.2011, 11:09
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

Good Lord, thousand apologies FIRST HAND... We are not from UK, we are from Malaysia (in case some of who have the faintest idea, it is just above Singapore and below Thailand!!!) yes, that is IT!

*shaking heads?* no? things will be more complicated if we hail from Malaysia? yes? no?

I have read all posts with gratitude; facts and fantasies (opps, none!), kinda digested and comprehended what is necessary and expecting to stomach more LOL!

@swisspea - yupe! definitely local schools, hoping that having supportive teachers/ school background helps much.

@sky - we are ok with initial years to be decided by teachers/ schools as to where/ which stream Nick will end up with. Having said so, progressively we will also will hear Nick out; his wishes, his aspirations, his frustrations?!!

Exactly no joke @ his age 15 yo, which is the crucial deciding factor on apprenticeship or high school.

The idea and costing of private schools as mentioned (as much as I wish I could hit jackpot and be an instant millionaire) has to be buried 7 ft underground. we don't want to expect hidden fees as and when and leave us high and dry later.

@aussielisa - tqvm, and yes! hardwork and nothing but hardwork. I will be there strong and sturdy for them. Phew!

@Faltrad - LOL! yeah expected stress indeed! We will heed advices shared above and see how it flows once we have physically landed. Kaboom!

@Mrs. Doolittle - noted your points. shared the same sentiments too. Certain things are too early to conclude now (i.e. exact residential canton, etc). Will iron out all above once we are here.

I actually do look forward to the integration classes.

@musicChick - like said, integration classes sounds perfectly sane to me at this moment. Worst case scenario (which I forbid it coming at all, hmmm) is moving back to home country.

@snoopy - i got what you mean. while looking for some reassurance is one thing, I am also a realist. totally aware of the children's emo challenges and so forth, thus now trying to sort out as much as I could from my side coz I can so seriously put things to a halt if I really want to.

Believe you me, I throw the same Q to my husband too "to what extent are we willing to jeopardize their education and future?" As skeptical as I am, I have to admit certain truths (from where we come from) that we have to pave opportunities for them (too long to elaborate here).

There are no right or wrong decisions, just different results. No one can tell for sure how good or bad things will turn out. So, we are taking risks, really...

But being a bold parent myself, I always sit with the children and share with them what will be happening soon... yes they are still very raw in life decisions and as parents, our decisions can literally screw up their lives. DANG!!!

@odile - I believe now that you know we are from Malaysia, you would have gathered the fact that Nick has no O levels nor A levels yet, thus making things far more difficult by just basing on his yearly academic results as entry requirement for anything at all.

Nevertheless, I am hopeful with the integration classes and thanks for the wishes. I hope so too things will turn out good (if not best) for my family.

Cheers all
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Old 17.01.2011, 11:16
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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Changing systems and languages at 15 is difficult, but certainly not impossible. I know because I did it. Plus, 15 is just on the cusp of being able to learn another language and speak it without an accent.

I'm not sure if it works in the German part like it does in the French part, so I'd suggest you have a good talk with school officials on arrival (or beforehand). I arrived in Switzerland at 15, also from the States. I went through an integration class for one year (intensive French learning), and then was presented with the choice all kids are presented with once their obligatory scholarity ends: apprenticeship, specialized technical school, or secondary school (collège in the French part). If your son wants to continue to university, he should aim for the latter. I was in 10th grade in the United States when I left, so technically I ended up losing two years, but that's a label that will only have importance if you choose to give it importance. Yes, it was often hard work, but worth it. You can't put a price on having two extra languages in your repertoire (French and Italian I learned in school, will probably be German and French/Italian for your son).

The integration class route at that age is certainly a sink-or-swim affair, but if your kid knows what he's in for and has his eye on the prize, he'll do fine.

thanks much... i have kinda sat through with him (and my 12 yo girl too), shared the reason for this move and, hmmm, both took it well; he in particular.

I won't say at his age he is mature to fully have the same wave length as his parents, but logic reasonings seems to work fine as is.
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Old 17.01.2011, 19:28
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

Hohan keep in mind that some of the people here are clearly experienced teachers (not me, I'm a momma of a teen)
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Old 17.01.2011, 19:36
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

Honestly, I think it's a cruel thing to do to your teenagers. If you were to send them to a school where their mother tongue is prevelant, then no problem. However, sending them to a public school is really putting the pressure on your children and the teachers. Here we have Oberstufe (middle school). Students in the first Oberstufe are 12-13 years old and by the third Oberstufe, they are 14-15 years old and need to have decided in which direction they'd like to advance their schooling: gymnasium (similar to high school) or an apprenticeship with formal schooling 2 days a week.

Please reconsider sending them to a private school where they can use their English.
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Old 17.01.2011, 21:31
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

I did not want to infer too much from what I have experienced, so I staid a little bit on the general side. But in my experience, it only works if the student, between 13 and 16, really wants to become bilingual and accept the extra years (one year for students with a language close to the new one to be learnt, two years for the others), most of the time by doing another academically less demanding education first, prepare the entrance exams on the side, and then take the entrance exams for Gymnasium. That means maturity and work capacity clearly above average.

The few students with little previous knowledge of German I have seen succeeding in the matura way with only one year extra were Dutch speakers. But all that if and only if the student has the academic profile for Gymasium in the first place. Which is an interesting question in itself, as the other educational opportunities in Switzerland are very attractive and open many career possibilities at all kinds of levels. Matura is NOT a goal in itself, never forget that.
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Last edited by Faltrad; 17.01.2011 at 21:43. Reason: English, what else?
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  #34  
Old 18.01.2011, 11:43
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

What I would suggest for the OP is to really educate yourself about the Swiss school system. There are plenty of threads here on the EF, and through links and other experiences, after some reading, even nearly all in English if need be, you should have a better understanding of the swiss school system.

There will always be some examples of people who successfully made it through the matura or did not entering the system as a teen, but what I think is important is to see clearly what is ahead if you cannot make Plan B. Carefully read and then discuss with spouse, then importantly discuss with the children. A mature 15 year old will indeed need to know what is expected or necessary. Not every child will have the ability, desire, or dedication to go to university, esp.in a foreign language, but they should clearly understand the alternatives, ie. apprentiship and trade career, or ending school at 16, etc. Only then can you probably make an informed decision on the future schooling and path for your family.
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Old 18.01.2011, 12:53
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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Honestly, I think it's a cruel thing to do to your teenagers. If you were to send them to a school where their mother tongue is prevelant, then no problem. However, sending them to a public school is really putting the pressure on your children and the teachers. Here we have Oberstufe (middle school). Students in the first Oberstufe are 12-13 years old and by the third Oberstufe, they are 14-15 years old and need to have decided in which direction they'd like to advance their schooling: gymnasium (similar to high school) or an apprenticeship with formal schooling 2 days a week.

Please reconsider sending them to a private school where they can use their English.
Ok, I am also guilty of running through the posts and not reading properly, so I shouldn't dare to nag. But have your read OPs posts? She has clearly stated that they cannot afford the private schooling. It does no help rubbing it in further. There are plenty of kids who moved when 15 and were put into Integr. classes, learned the lingo, moved on to better schooling afterwards or opted for some nice trade focused career with apprenticeship, taking further language or Gmn prep classes on the side.

To argue adding a non native kid to a class will present a bigger strain for the teacher, that's what they are hired for, in the Integr. classes. They are usually very good. No need to send OPs kids to an overpriced and sometimes not the most efficient (integration-wise) institution. Especially if OP expressed that she does not wishes to do so.

It can be hard, though, OP, all depends on motivation not only of your children but the entire family to help out, outsource if needed, can mean spending hours every day supporting the kids with hw, hiring a tutor, etc.
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Old 18.01.2011, 13:43
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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Honestly, I think it's a cruel thing to do to your teenagers.

Please reconsider sending them to a private school where they can use their English.
I think judging people as being cruel because their life changes mean moving their teenage children to new schools in new countries is a bit harsh, I don't think you grasp how hard the decision to do this is. It is not taken lightly, I can guarantee you, having had to have do this twice, that makes me worse than the OP. And yes I have taken offence to this comment.

As for reconsidering sending them to a private school, we paid for my daughter to go to the international school in Germany for the first year and a half we were there. She was living in a bubble, her friends lived all over the city so was difficult to meet up. Whereas at the local school the kids live near each other. International schools are okay IF you are only staying short term.

When we moved her to the German school, her whole experience in Germany was improved. I wish we had never sent her to the international school, that is what I call cruel.

If you are planning to stay here, its best for them to be immersed in the language, living in a bubble doesn't help them, it just delays them.

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Old 18.01.2011, 14:09
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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But all that if and only if the student has the academic profile for Gymasium in the first place. Which is an interesting question in itself, as the other educational opportunities in Switzerland are very attractive and open many career possibilities at all kinds of levels. Matura is NOT a goal in itself, never forget that.
And there are of course other avenues to a university education - assuming he has previously been educated in English, there are any number of distance learning degree courses that can be taken via the UK's Open University, other ones accredited to UK bricks-and-mortar unis; I imagine the same applies with US unis.

Taking a less academic route here in order to become fluent in German, whilst planning to acquire further education in English later down the line, is all perfectly possible. In a similar vein: in the UK my husband left school at 16 almost without qualifications, worked for some years in factory floor jobs, then did a uni access course which led to a technical qualification, then a degree, then a Master's degree, the the sort of career which gets us posted here .

Twenty-one is not the only permitted age to graduate; it is not a never-to-be-repeated opportunity.

It is important that your 15 yr old understands all this, though (assuming he's thinking of further education anyway). There is a less than 0.001% that he would be able to get his Matura (school qualification needed for uni entry) then graduate with his age peers. But there is nothing at all negative about graduating in his mid-20s having already perhaps done an apprenticeship and got some real work experience, and being bilingual to boot.
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Old 18.01.2011, 17:54
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

gee, read every posts carefully and accessed what is and what nots...

Supportive, friendly, harsh or otherwise is expected when I decided to seek help and pop my Q as I have read quite a fair bit before joining EF.

While a lot are very helpful tips/ info, some are downright mean and bitchy, lets not forget cocky as well

*but then again, it's ok reading them especially when you are super stressed out; knowing that there are equal weirdos like me all over the globe; who sometimes like to give shits to people for no reasons; some very well deserved as they are annoying, some really not, uh huh*

I appreciate each and every post and I can't be expecting all favourable comments, right? Every post has its own angle of perception, its facts and none will be taken lightly, trust me.

yupe, given a choice, I wouldn't even think of moving to the other side of the world, dropping a soaring career right in my face and assuming a tougher role as Minister of War but with a meagre "grocery" allowance (or perhaps a more glamourous title, Home Minister, Home Engineer) but still the same allowance... hah!

jokes aside, we are landing hell for sure (or maybe not)... and hey, more feedback coz it really allows me to weigh all pros and cons (as tho' I can change the transfer decision if pros are lesser in comparison lol) but at least I am better prepared than none at all.

*hugs to all*
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Old 18.01.2011, 18:05
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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and hey, more feedback coz it really allows me to weigh all pros and cons (as tho' I can change the transfer decision if pros are lesser in comparison lol) but at least I am better prepared than none at all.
The more knowledge you have of your children's schooling before you arrive, the better you will be prepared. Have you thought about sending your children to German classes in your homeland before flying over? Any bit of German will be immensely helpful and they'll have the language explained in their own mother tongue, something they won't get here.
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Old 18.01.2011, 18:27
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Re: schooling for 15 yo and 12 yo

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The more knowledge you have of your children's schooling before you arrive, the better you will be prepared. Have you thought about sending your children to German classes in your homeland before flying over? Any bit of German will be immensely helpful and they'll have the language explained in their own mother tongue, something they won't get here.
technically not close to where we are staying and we only have such classes in bigger cities (e.g. Kuala Lumpur/ Penang) which is a tad too far from here...

Nick started his online basic tutorial lessons tho' but without a proper tutor, he could only master basic vocabs/ words instead of from the grammatical sense...

We do have books and audios tho' and I attended basic Deutsch classes back in 2002 in Zurich (Nick was in kindy then; I would be happy if he tells me today that he remembers what Frau Schmidt taught him!!!). Alas not! hmmm.

cheers
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